Interim review of youth justice reforms released

Published Tuesday, 15 November, 2022 at 08:17 PM

Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Leanne Linard

The Palaszczuk Government’s crackdown on youth crime is showing results, with more serious repeat offenders in detention and for longer.

The finding is part of a review into the implementation of significant changes to legislation put in place in early 2021.

Former Police Commissioner and Author of the Youth Justice Reform Review, Bob Atkinson AO APM said the report reviewed the status of the eight legislated changes and nine policy initiatives six months after they were introduced.

“During the course of the review we interviewed key stakeholders to get a better understanding of the effectiveness of the Government's youth justice reforms and the continual monitoring of these reforms, 'Mr Atkinson said.

“The key take away was that the reforms were worthwhile and should be continued.”

Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard welcomed the review and said it showed Queensland’s tough youth bail laws were working.

“We have put community safety first since we came into government and when Queenslanders said they wanted more done, we did more,” Ms Linard said.

“When we made amendments to the Youth Justice Act last year, we were determined to make the small number of serious repeat offenders more accountable for their behaviour.

“And this review shows we’ve done just that – there has been a decrease in the proportion of serious recidivist offenders on bail, in line with the presumption against bail reform.

“Our bail laws are among the toughest in the nation and it means more offenders are being remanded in custody, which means Queensland communities are safer.

“While this is cold comfort to victims of crime, it does mean our initiatives and legislative changes are having an impact, especially on that small cohort responsible for close to half the offences committed by young people.

“At the same time, we increased support services and programs to help young people break the cycle of offending.

“Because our government recognises that public safety is paramount and community confidence is essential.”

Mr Atkinson’s review reported a wanding trial on the Gold Coast had resulted in a decline in knife-related crime in the trial locations.  In addition, there had been a 12 per cent reduction in overall hooning offences.

Police Minister Mark Ryan thanked Mr Atkinson for his professionalism and dedication to reviewing the implementation of the Youth Justice reforms.

“Bob Atkinson has a level of insight into youth justice matters to which few others can lay claim,” Mr Ryan said.

“The statistics clearly show that there are more recidivist offenders in custody now compared to the period before these reforms were introduced.

“As the review states, it’s too early to make any definitive judgments, but it seems clear that there are some trends that support community safety outcomes.

“The government will continue to invest in strategies to enhance community safety.”

Key findings

Legislative reform

Summary of key findings

Electronic monitoring as a condition of bail

The electronic monitoring trial was assessed as well implemented.

While the trial has had a low uptake, this is in part due to the show cause initiative targeting the same offences.

While there were some suggestions for expanding the application or changing the eligible cohort for electronic monitoring, the Report cautioned against making any change without the benefit of a comprehensive impact evaluation and further investigation of its application in other jurisdictions.

Presumption against bail (show cause)

As intended by the legislation the Report found that as of 31 October 2021, the show cause provisions appear to be contributing to an increase in remand in custody rates.

Compared to previous years, there was an increase in the number of distinct young people remanded in custody, an increase in the average duration in custody and an increase in the average daily number of young people in custody.


Parent, guardian, or other person’s willingness to support a young person on bail

Outcomes related to the granting of bail indicate that this legislation may be having the desired impact in terms of better engaging the support of families and others.

There was a higher rate of bail being granted where there was an indication of willingness, compared to when there was not.

Stakeholders reported a significant number of families who have a lack of understanding, interest, or ability to provide the kind of support needed to ensure the young person complies with bail conditions.

The data regarding the extent to which parents or other people are willing to support a young person on bail lends weight to this proposition, with only 43 per cent of cases having family members indicating a willingness to support young people on bail.

The community should be protected from serious, recidivist offenders

Survey data reveals overall moderate levels of confidence in this reform.

Some respondents felt that with more high-risk offenders being remanded in custody, improvements to bail monitoring and increased compliance with bail conditions, there is a growing improvement in perceptions of safety in communities.

Offending on bail is an aggravating factor in sentencing

Almost 40 per cent of survey respondents from service delivery agencies and advocacy organisations thought that considering offending on bail in sentencing was an effective measure to reduce serious, repeat offending, with more favourable views being expressed by Queensland Police Service respondents.


Unable to remand in custody solely because of inadequate accommodation or family support

The legislative amendment, while being supported in principle and noted as important to underscore in legislation, was perceived as having little real impact on the circumstances of young people and their likelihood of being granted bail.

This was attributed to there being significant issues associated with the accessibility of suitable accommodation and the perception that the provision was being made redundant in some cases due to curfew conditions being imposed.

Hooning - owner deeming provisions

The reforms appear to have been implemented well, with some opportunities to improve operational police knowledge of the range of legislative powers available.

There was a 12 per cent decrease overall in hooning offences.


Metal detection wands

The trial has been well implemented with moderate to high levels of stakeholder and community support.

Knife crime has reduced in the trial locations – by 17 per cent in Surfers Paradise and 23 per cent in Broadbeach; however other Gold Coast police divisions also reported decreases in knife crime, possibly due to a broader education campaign.

A planned 12-month evaluation by Griffith University will inform future decisions about the continuation or expansion of this initiative.


To download a copy of the release go here:


Media contacts:

Minister Linard’s office: Catherine Baker -  0498844783

Minister Ryan’s Office: Elise Williams – 0482503675